“It’s a small world…but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it – Steven Wright
There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about a profound socioeconomic shift that is occurring, commonly referred to as The Rise of the Global Middle Class. The world’s middle class population was estimated by the Brookings Institution to include 400 million people in 2005.
In the next 20 years the global middle class is projected to grow to include 1.2 billion people. Fully two-thirds of that unprecedented expansion in prosperity will occur in China and India.
In 1992 Nike produced their award-winning “Bo Knows” campaign, featuring the amazingly talented Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson. Bo was the first athlete to achieve All-Star recognition in two different sports: football and baseball.
But, Bo’s future as an athlete became uncertain in 1991, when he was tackled and sustained a devastating hip injury. His football career ended, and he missed the 1992 Major League Baseball season to have hip replacement surgery. Though Bo never waivered in asserting that he would return to baseball, many doubted that it was a realistic goal.
Instead of dropping Bo as a spokesman, Nike paired him with comedian Denis Leary, who went on to obnoxiously challenge the audience to reflect on the fact that they’re sitting on the sofa while Bo and his new hip are out cross-training.
And Bo answered Denis’ sneering narration by returning to the baseball diamond, hitting a home run on his first-at-bat, the first of 16 homers he would deliver in his first post-surgery season. Nike printed a full page ad reading “Bo Knew”.
To earn money as a struggling college student in the 1980’s, I took a night-shift job at the local hospital as a ‘monitor tech’ in the Intensive Care Unit.
Armed only with massive amounts of caffeine and very rudimentary training in what bad ECG cardiac rhythms look like, I spent my nights watching a row of heartbeat monitors for 24 hospital patients. I was given three standing orders:
Don’t fall asleep.
If anything changes in a patient’s heart rhythm try to print off a paper strip of it for the physicians to take a look at in the morning.
If any of the rhythms changed to either very smooth waves or a completely flat line scream for a nurse.
That second responsibility proved to be the most challenging, because the monitors didn’t have the ability to pause or rewind. Catching the anomalies that the physicians wanted to see required gunfighter reflexes to physically get to the right monitor and hold down the print button hoping that the troubling rhythm was still on the screen so that it would show up on the paper slip.
Being jacked up on caffeine did help with the reaction time, though I was a jittery mess in class the next morning. Good times.
Do you know what physicians do now when they want to see their patients’ cardiac rhythms? Many of them pull out their smart phones. Modern cardiac monitors are intelligent, autonomous, and wi-fi enabled. They can assess and interpret patient rythyms far better than I ever could, and they never fall asleep.
“Medicine sometimes snatches away health, sometimes gives it”
– Ovid, Tristia, Book II
In Tristia the Roman poet Ovid noted a healthcare challenge that is as true in our age as it was in his – medicine can affect different people differently. While they lack the eloquence and poetry of Ovid, every pharmaceutical advertisement says much the same thing, citing both the beneficial and adverse effects that a patient may experience. Most will benefit, some may experience no improvement, and a small percentage may experience an unintended side effect.